How-to Guide: Splitting your home loan debit order

Editors note 03/07/2015: The information below is still, to the best of our knowledge, correct.

After the positive response to Liz’s Property24 article (read it!) we found that many people were having trouble putting the recommended split debit orders in place. So I was sent on a mission to find out from South Africa’s four largest banks (ABSA, FNB, Nedbank and Standard) exactly how it could be done.

Yes, I was forced to brave the horror that is a South African bank’s call centre no less than six times to get you this information and I hope you appreciate my sacrifice!

Editor’s Note: The request being made of the banks is to split the current home loan debit order into to two equal halves. All calls occurred between 2 and 5pm on Friday 1st November 2013.

ABSA: Possible

It took a while before I could speak to a human but when I finally did I found the ABSA call centre staff to be the most helpful and knowledgeable of the four that I called. I only had to explain myself once and was assured that it was possible to split my home loan debit order or add new debit orders to my account. Even better it could be done over the phone. As I am an ABSA home loan client I decided to put this to the test.

When I requested a split in my debit order I was transferred from the Home Loans Call Centre to Account Administration. My call was promptly answered and a jovial operator asked me a few security questions, listened to my request, explained what he was doing and split my debit order.

Easy peasy! Seems like if you’re an ABSA client you’re in luck.

The process I followed was:

>>> Call Home Loan Call Centre: 0860 111 007
>>> Select Option 2
>>> Enter Account number followed by #
>>> Request a split debit order (you’ll be put through to Account Administration)

FNB: Possible under “exceptional circumstances” (which means NOT POSSIBLE!)

Home Loan Call Centre: 087 730 1144

The operator at FNB’s call centre was only able to tell me that they allow only “one debit per cycle” for “billing purposes”. When I asked her to clarify I was put through to the Collections Department (087 730 1100).

Here I was informed that FNB had previously allowed split debit orders but found that people defaulted after the first half of the payment and so they had taken away this option 2 years ago.

Currently the “System” does not allow split debit orders to be created but this can be overridden in “exceptional circumstances”. These “exceptional circumstances” turned out to be related to financial distress and had to have strenuous motivation and a lot of evidence.

Another option that the FNB collections agent put forward is to insist that your debit order (which is a condition of bond approval) be removed to allow you to make manual payments each month. I got the impression that it would take a lot of insisting before this was done.

In theory it is possible but in practice it is impossible to have a split debit order at FNB.

NEDBANK: Possible (but it depends who you speak to at the bank!)

NedBank Home Loans Call Centre 0860 555 111

According to the operator at the Nedbank call centre it is impossible to split your debit order. When I asked why she passionately responded by saying “It’s a rule! Like the constitution…you just have to do it.”

While her passion was admirable it was clear I wasn’t going to get any meaningful answers. I asked to be put through to the collections department (0860 553 573). I was promptly informed that split payments are, in fact, possible and simple to put in place. All you have to do is call the collections department to set it up.

Easy when you know how!

The process I followed was:
>>> Call Nedbank Collections (0860 553 573)
>>> Ask to split your debit order

STANDARD BANK: Not Possible. But…

Home Loan Centre 0860 123 001 (option 5)

After a 15 minute wait I was finally assisted by a seemingly knowledgeable call centre operator and according to him it is not possible to split your debit order. This is because each home loan account can only have one debit order associated with it. This is a limitation imposed by the “system” and it seems unlikely to change. He did offer a possible work around in that you can stipulate your debit order amount and date and then manually transfer outstanding amount on a later date or apply for a salary stop order.

A “half-split” if you will. This can be done via the branch or through the call centre. I would advise calling them to determine the EXACT documents you require.

Remember:

  1. Don’t take “no” for an answer. You are the bank’s customer and they should be servicing your needs.
  2. Whatever bank you are with or whatever route you take with altering your repayment De Mink Property Finance urges you to keep an eye on your account to make sure that what you want to happen is actually happening.
  3. If you do split your payments and the rate changes, please confirm with your bank that your split payments cover the minimum monthly installment! It might not be adjust automatically.
  4. if you think you lack the discipline to maintain manual payments then don’t risk it! Always remember even a payment that is a made a few days late could result in a blemish on your credit history for many years to come!

Greg de Mink 

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